That was in 1958. I spent about six months in Paris again. I rented an apartment there and worked. [...] I was slowly coming to a phase where figures were becoming more and more obscure. [...] Of course, one could still see a figure but it was not quite the same thing. The landscape and figures were merging into each other in the forms. (Artist Statement, Ram Kumar: A Journey Within, 1996, p. 191)

Composition (1958) belongs to Ram Kumar's early figurative phase. An important transitional work, the artist seemingly drew inspiration from Modigliani's oeuvre, seen during his visits to Paris. Modigliani painted portraits of ordinary men and women: a gardener, an apprentice, a young peasant, a chambermaid, a woman druggist and occasionally, a child. Both artists utilized a quiet tonality, elegantly captured in muted colors. Richard Bartholemew states: " [...] in Ram Kumar's paintings of the 1950s one recognized the dramatis personnae as city people in a city environment circumscribed by the constrictions of urban society and motivated by conflicts which ensue from dense population, unemployment, and artificial relationships [...] Somewhat marionette-like and angularly stanced with half-gestures that seem to clutch at something precious, the boldly but starkly portrayed people [...are...] related to one another because of the pervading quality of introspection, of a searching for meaning, purpose, release which is written large on their countenances.' (R. Bartholomew, 'Attitudes to the Social Condition: Notes on Ram Kumar', Lalit Kala Contemporary 24-25, New Delhi, 1981, p. 31)

Signature: signed 'RAM KUMAR' (lower left); signed and titled 'RAM KUMAR / "COMPOSITION"' (on the reverse)


About Ram Kumar